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UK Ranked 35 out of 200 Countries for Average Broadband ISP Speed UPDATE

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018 (9:18 am) - Score 2,484
world network and broadband connections

New data from research group M-Lab and Cable.co.uk has revealed that for 2018 the United Kingdom delivered an average (mean) broadband download speed of just 18.57Mbps (up from 16.51Mbps in 2017) and ranks 35th fastest in the world (down from 31st) versus 200 other countries.

The research itself stems from information gathered via 160 million speed tests, which were carried out across the world. We note that the average UK speed of 18.57Mbps (Megabits per second) is well below the 46.2Mbps recorded by Ofcom’s recent fixed line broadband speeds report for 2018 (here) and is also way off the 50.16Mbps reported by Ookla’s (Speedtest.net) study published earlier this year (here). Admittedly Ofcom and Ookla used different methodologies to M-Lab but that’s still a big gap.

The M-Lab data is useful for understanding our country’s place in the world, although it’s worth reminding readers that such reports make for a poor gauge when considering the actual availability of faster networks. At present it’s estimated that around 95%+ of premises are within reach of a fixed “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) service – this should rise to 98% by 2020 – and in at least that respect we’re ahead of most EU states (here).

Crucially somewhere around 45% of home broadband lines in the UK are still connecting via slow pure copper ADSL services, even though faster networks are often available in those same areas (i.e. a lot of people haven’t upgraded due to various reasons such as a lack of awareness, higher prices, fear of switching, satisfaction with their existing package etc.).

Lest we forget that lots of other problems can also skew results extracted from speedtests, such as slow WiFi, consumer package choice or local network congestion (e.g. running a speedtest at the same time as somebody else is downloading a big file). On the other hand, if we assume that other countries will face the same issues then the new ranking remains a useful indicator of progress and take-up, provided it’s taken in the correct context.

Greg Mesch, CityFibre CEO, said:

“Seeing the UK falling even further behind other EU countries [for broadband speed] is depressing but not surprising, given the UK’s lack of investment in fibre to the premises and other nations’ new networks increasingly coming online. This situation must change – and quickly – as successfully rolling out this superior digital infrastructure is critical for the success of the UK economy and our ability to compete internationally.

Companies are now investing billions to bring this technology to the UK, but this will only be successful with the Government’s full support. The place to start is putting a stop to the misleading use of the word fibre in broadband advertising, so that consumers know that when they see fibre, it is a fibre to the premises connection they are buying. Copper is dead: it is time for the UK to embrace full fibre – no ifs, no buts.”

Greg is right to highlight the United Kingdom’s deficiency in “full fibre” (FTTP/H) coverage, which can potentially deliver better than Gigabit speeds (1000Mbps+) to those who want it. Indeed in this respect we are behind most of the EU for FTTP/H coverage and fairly week even for coverage by “ultrafast” (100Mbps+) capable services. Unsurprisingly the top country of Singapore (60.39Mbps) has a lot of FTTH/P.

However, the situation is improving, albeit slowly. The UK government wants 15 million premises to have access to Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) by 2025 (currently c.1.2 million) and then nationwide to all by 2033 (here), although the latter date is currently just a vague aspiration (i.e. responsibility for 2033 is likely to fall on the shoulders of a future government, which may have other plans).

Nevertheless the groundwork has already been laid. The combination of new regulation stemming from Ofcom’s Strategic Review (details) and direct support from the government, such as via a 5 year business rates holiday on new fibre optic lines, improvements to the Electronic Communications Code (here) and several large funding schemes to support 5G or “full fibre” development (here), are having an impact.

For example, over the past 12-24 months Hyperoptic has said that it now aims to cover 2 million urban premises with FTTH/P by 2022 (aspiration for 5 million by 2025), while Vodafone with Cityfibre will reach 1 million by 2021 (aspiration for up to 5 million by 2025) and Openreach will do 3 million by 2020  (see our ‘Summary of Full Fibre Broadband Plans and Investment‘ for more).

An Openreach Spokesperson said:

“It’s encouraging that this report shows UK broadband speeds have increased 12.5% since 2017.

Britain already has the largest digital economy in the G20, with the internet responsible for an estimated 12.4% of GDP. But we know there is more to do, which is why we are in the process of hiring 3500 engineers to support us with the roll out of ultrafast fibre to 3 million more people by 2020.”

On the other hand a lot of other technologies, such as Openreach’s rollout of hybrid fibre G.fast to 10 million premises by 2020 and Virgin Media’s Hybrid Fibre Coax (DOCSIS) expansion to another 2 million premises, will also have a positive impact on national performance. Assuming people actually upgrade to all of these new and faster services as otherwise studies like this one won’t spot the improvement.

Now to the results..

Rank Country Average Download Speed (Mean) in Mbps
1 Singapore 60.39
2 Sweden 46
3 Denmark 43.99
4 Norway 40.12
5 Romania 38.6
6 Belgium 36.71
7 Netherlands 35.95
8 Luxembourg 35.14
9 Hungary 34.01
10 Jersey 30.9
11 Switzerland 29.92
12 Japan 28.94
13 Latvia 28.63
14 Taiwan 28.09
15 Estonia 27.91
16 Spain 27.19
17 Lithuania 27.17
18 Andorra 27.14
19 Hong Kong 26.45
20 US 25.86
21 Slovakia 25.3
22 Madagascar 24.87
23 France 24.23
24 Finland 24
25 Germany 24
26 New Zealand 23.77
27 Czechia 23.71
28 Slovenia 21.41
29 Portugal 21.28
30 Republic of Korea 20.63
31 Bulgaria 20.2
32 Poland 19.73
33 Canada 19.48
34 Iceland 18.85
35 United Kingdom 18.57
36 Ireland 18.22
37 Liechtenstein 17.71
38 Austria 17.51
39 Barbados 17.08
40 Thailand 17.06
41 Macao 16.12
42 Croatia 15.6
43 Italy 15.1
44 Gibraltar 14.71
45 Republic of Moldova 13.88
46 Malta 13.6
47 Russia 13.51
48 Malaysia 13.3
49 Aruba 13.27
50 Serbia 13
51 Turks and Caicos Islands 11.7
52 Australia 11.69
53 Kosovo 11.64
54 Guernsey 11.58
55 Cayman Islands 11.49
56 Trinidad and Tobago 11.37
57 Greece 11.3
58 Ukraine 11.28
59 Cyprus 11.1
60 Monaco 11.02
61 U.S. Virgin Islands 10.55
62 Isle of Man 10.54
63 Faroe Islands 10.38
64 Kenya 10.11
65 Bahamas 9.95
66 Belarus 9.21
67 Bermuda 9.13
68 Macedonia 8.82
69 Jamaica 8.25
70 Israel 7.64
71 Bosnia and Herzegovina 7.37
72 Panama 7.05
73 Puerto Rico 6.88
74 Montenegro 6.74
75 Vietnam 6.72
76 South Africa 6.38
77 Georgia 6.25
78 Uruguay 6.19
79 St Kitts and Nevis 6.12
80 Curaçao 5.99
81 Sri Lanka 5.84
82 Cuba 5.83
83 Indonesia 5.77
84 Martinique 5.74
85 Mexico 5.69
86 Albania 5.56
87 Dominica 5.38
88 India 5.19
89 Philippines 5.18
90 Bahrain 5.05
91 Turkey 4.9
92 Chile 4.74
93 Sint Maarten 4.68
94 British Virgin Islands 4.46
95 Kazakhstan 4.45
96 Dominican Republic 4.41
97 United Arab Emirates 4.35
98 Laos 4.29
99 Guadeloupe 4.21
100 Myanmar [Burma] 4.15
101 Brunei 4.15
102 Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan 4.11
103 Cambodia 4.1
104 Saudi Arabia 4.09
105 Morocco 4.03
106 Costa Rica 3.96
107 Armenia 3.94
108 Belize 3.93
109 Antigua and Barbuda 3.85
110 Oman 3.83
111 Qatar 3.8
112 Tunisia 3.67
113 Peru 3.31
114 Colombia 3.25
115 Cabo Verde 3.24
116 Argentina 3.18
117 New Caledonia 3.16
118 Guatemala 3.13
119 Saint Lucia 3
120 Ghana 2.88
121 Zimbabwe 2.86
122 Honduras 2.8
123 El Salvador 2.78
124 Guam 2.77
125 Kuwait 2.76
126 Ecuador 2.76
127 Fiji 2.65
128 Guyana 2.64
129 Nicaragua 2.64
130 Rwanda 2.64
131 Namibia 2.62
132 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2.6
133 Brazil 2.58
134 Burundi 2.56
135 Azerbaijan 2.52
136 Suriname 2.47
137 Grenada 2.46
138 Haiti 2.42
139 Mauritius 2.39
140 Uganda 2.39
141 China 2.38
142 Réunion 2.38
143 French Guiana 2.37
144 Nepal 2.36
145 Iran 2.2
146 Zambia 2.03
147 Maldives 1.98
148 Bangladesh 1.97
149 Tanzania 1.96
150 Papua New Guinea 1.92
151 Bolivia 1.9
152 Nigeria 1.86
153 Mozambique 1.76
154 Palestine 1.75
155 Paraguay 1.73
156 Seychelles 1.72
157 Ivory Coast 1.7
158 Liberia 1.61
159 Sierra Leone 1.61
160 Lebanon 1.6
161 Mongolia 1.57
162 Sudan 1.56
163 Kyrgyzstan 1.52
164 Botswana 1.5
165 Angola 1.49
166 Gambia 1.45
167 Libya 1.42
168 French Polynesia 1.42
169 Senegal 1.4
170 Egypt 1.33
171 Pakistan 1.32
172 Cameroon 1.29
173 Togo 1.27
174 Swaziland 1.26
175 Algeria 1.25
176 Venezuela 1.24
177 Benin 1.23
178 Iraq 1.21
179 Malawi 1.17
180 Afghanistan 1.15
181 Gabon 1.13
182 São Tomé and Príncipe 1.13
183 Ethiopia 1.13
184 Uzbekistan 1.02
185 Mayotte 0.97
186 Vanuatu 0.95
187 Mali 0.95
188 Tajikistan 0.94
189 Djibouti 0.92
190 Congo 0.86
191 Democratic Republic of the Congo 0.85
192 Burkina Faso 0.84
193 Niger 0.83
194 Syria 0.81
195 Mauritania 0.7
196 Guinea 0.65
197 Somalia 0.6
198 Turkmenistan 0.56
199 East Timor 0.49
200 Yemen 0.31

UPDATE 11:52am

Added a comment from Gigaclear below.

Mike Surrey, Chief Executive of Gigaclear, said:

“This report demonstrates the consequences of the UK’s slow investment in its digital infrastructure. It’s disappointing to see the UK being slowly pushed further down the charts, not only by fellow European countries, but also other less economically developed nations. Why? Because the UK has simply delayed the roll out of full fibre broadband for too long.

To combat this decline, both the telecoms industry and the government need to prioritise full fibre as the basic standard across the nation in both rural and urban areas. It is clear that the outdated copper infrastructure is slowing us down. So whilst the investment and roll out of full fibre is slowly increasing, more urgency is needed and a comprehensive national plan must be put into action.”

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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17 Responses
  1. New_londoner

    It would be more accurate to suggest that the “UK Ranked 35 out of 200 Countries for Average Broadband ISP Speed based on packages selected by consumers and businesses”. The latter part is important as the headline from the press release could be read to suggest that it is down to limitations of infrastructure when the UK ranking is in fact mainly down to what people are prepared to buy and is some way short the maximum speed available to many (most?).

    • Headlines are required to be short or they just get cut off halfway by Google et al and penalised (sentence length is no good these days). As usual the context you want is already in the story, where it’s supposed to be. You’d do better to challenge the many other sites/newspapers that have taken the results at face value and not even considered its caveats in the story.

    • un4h731x0rp3r0m

      “…when the UK ranking is in fact mainly down to what people are prepared to buy and is some way short the maximum speed available to many (most?).”

      The UK ranking?? That statement applies to every country on the list.

    • New_Londoner

      Up to a point. There is less choice in some markets, also some speed test results (not usually for the U.K.) include leased line connections which distort the picture.

    • un4h731x0rp3r0m

      Nope doubt that is accurate. Belgium in 2017 had less FTTP then the UK yet they are at position 6 a whole 29 places above us. They are mainly Cable and ADSL connections, pretty similar to us. Except they must be doing something significantly better.

      Leased lines should hardly affect this, especially with regards to many EU places above us, where pricing is similar to that we pay here.

      About the only countries you could apply the lesser choice to in any significant degree to are the top 3-5 which are mainly some type of REAL fibre connections.

      We are less than 20 places above Kosovo for christ sake, a country which less than 2 decades ago was war torn, and certainly would not have had anything near spent on Internet as this country has spent. Probably even less rebuilding the entire country.

      Face it our position is a joke especially when you factor in all the promises we have heard from both the government and BT over the years. FTTC has been here for about 8 years, that is getting on for a decade. I do not see any of the BS “Best in Europe” even slowly becoming true which is what the government and BT made lofty aspirations to be.

      Stop making poor excuses for this country and the majority of its rollouts. BT and the government have failed. Even with BTs new meaningless we might do xxx million FTTP claims we still will not be best in Europe or anything similar to other nonsense “claims, aims, aspirations or whatever you want to call them” that have previously been slobbered.

    • FibreFred

      ^ Bait

      Don’t waste your time New_Londoner. 🙂

    • Ade Thompson

      ^^ The BT Trolls busy with their one-twos again! ^^

    • un4h731x0rp3r0m

      Observational facts based on the information in the news item.

  2. Optimist

    I wonder how many users are getting a lower speed than they would like, what the average acceptable speed is, and whether users are prepared to pay extra?

    There are many users, like me, who find that the speeds are more than enough. I could buy a faster package but it is not worth the extra expense.

    Average delivered speeds alone are not particularly useful, IMHO.

    • Amos

      Well I’m getting slower speeds than I’d like.

      If I had options for 1Gb/s I’d take it, 70Mb/s just doesn’t cut it and the 20Mb/s upload really doesn’t cut it.

    • AnotherTim

      Well if you’re not interested in your faster connection – can I have it please?

  3. Meadmodj

    Meaningless comparison on its own. There are so many factors including % of premises able to get broadband, the take up of higher speed options and of course the reason why people use speed tests, its usually because they are having a problem.

    • un4h731x0rp3r0m

      “Meaningless comparison on its own”

      How many countries would you have liked to seen compared?

    • Meadmodj

      Just saying it is difficult to make conclusions without considering other factors.
      We do not know whether the speed tests are comparative and where the test servers were located (particularly relevant to Africa).
      As MJ reported in February some European countries have higher FTTB/H penetration (e,g Latvia over 50%) yet this does not appear to be reflected in the results above. So is it the line speed, the contention ratio, the ISP Internet connectivity, test server location or speed test parameter?. We don’t know.

    • un4h731x0rp3r0m

      I already sited Belgium as being similar connection choice wise to us yet they have done significantly better than us.

      For reference in case you are interested the information seems reasonably accurate and similar to Ookla collected info.

  4. Mario

    While this article may be meaningless or not… from what I have experienced in different countries, this rank doesn’t look far off from the truth!

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